The title of this post was a question posed to a handsome, young mega-church pastor for a video series. The young man was fit, tan and looked good in his jeans.
He also gave a long, rambling answer, the supposed conclusion of which was to answer the question in the negative. I do not intend to do much with the pastor himself. I do want to visit with my readers about his supposed conclusions.
From what I gathered, here are his main points:
- People go to counselors when they should just go to their church.
- If people find themselves in a church that will not work to heal them, they should just hurriedly go to another church.
- People go to a counselor because they want confidentiality.
- Christians should want to live publicly, before the church, and not crave the confidence of a private, personal study.
- Christians who seek a psychological counselor have somehow failed, as Christians and church members, or else their time in the church would be all they need.
For the sake of those who check to see if I am nuanced, here you go. I wish to offer my admiration to someone who still has so much confidence in the local church. This is precious, if misguided, when one looks at fact.
The local churches are made up of persons who divorce, abuse substances, abuse children and spouses, et al, at about the same rate as the general populace. How is this possible if the large churches are healing them so quickly and effectively?
I wonder if the real question here would be better posed as, “Should a human being ever seek direction from a psychological counselor?”
The variant posing of this issue might bring a softer answer from the young pastor. At least, I hope it might. A pastor might naturally feel threatened by someone from whom a church member might seek, well, anything. Perhaps the pastor reveals more of himself in his answer. Mega-churches must mirror their most vocal leaders. Mega-churches tend to absorb, assimilate and control, though all studies indicate the first contacts for converts is in a smaller church, or in no church at all. Mega-churches tend toward anabaptism, so perhaps it is not so surprising to discover a young lion who roars loudest through his own pulpit.
The danger of a professional clergy is always their tendency to see their call as a sacred vocation, to the exclusion of others. This would tend to exclude other members of the helping professions, like counselors, who seek education and accreditation as a Licensed Professional Counselor, Psychologist or Medical Doctor with a Psychiatric specialty is set about to do God’s work. A vocare (sacred calling) is not the sole possession of ordained clergy. In fact, it may not be open to clergy at all, depending upon their ability to minister, willingness to learn and openness to other voices.
Shall a human being seek a psychological counselor who loves God? My answer is yes, this is most appropriate. Neither the church nor the sufferer fail God or the church when they go for the best medicine they can find.